Category Archives: Environment
Here we are. Summer is around the corner. Winter sweaters have made their way into the back of the closet storage and the shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits are re-inhabiting the dresser drawers as you are starting to think about protection from our glorious sun.
Without a doubt the love for your children and your desire to keep them from harm’s way has you insisting on a few seasonal things; proper sunscreen coverage, proper hydration, a hat for their heads, and sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays.
Perfect, all the essential bases are covered! Or are they? In theory this plan of action is ideal, keep the kids protected from the harsh components of the elements and you are good to go. Unfortunately it is not that simple.
Google it, and you’ll find hundreds of articles on the dangers of most conventional sunscreens. Add that to the fact that there are not yet government regulations on most body care products and you have a recipe for false claims and questionable and unsafe ingredients in a HUGE majority of the sunscreens on the market. Many traditional sun blocks actually contain known cancer causing ingredients. This is a big concern when your intention is to PROTECT your children.
What is a loving parent to do? You’ll be glad to know that safe sunscreens do exist! Even some made right here in Canada, some are government certified and some are even eco certified. This is incredible news for those wanting to do the best for the health of their family. There is a great website with a database with invaluable information on thousands of body care products; it is called Skindeep and I highly recommend looking into the safety information on your sunscreens and any of the body care products you might use before slathering them on.
Proper hydration – this one is pretty much a no brainer, we play, we sweat, we need to hydrate. But HOW we hydrate, for reasons of our well being, is just as important as actually hydrating itself. For health reasons as well as HUGE environmental reasons, make a personal promise to yourself right now – never use a plastic water bottle again! It doesn’t matter whether you recycle or not, they are toxic, toxic to you, toxic to our planet. For starters they are made from petroleum, and the multitude of chemicals in their composition makes its way into the water you drink and once there they are they known to negatively affect and wreak havoc on our endocrine systems. INVEST in the best, invest in yourself, get a top quality water bottle preferably in an 18/8 stainless steel, (it should cost in the neighborhood of between about $18 and $25 dollars) and it should last you FOREVER. I have been using mine for 6 years! I have saved Thousands of dollars as a result, not to mention I personally have kept more than 12000 plastic bottles out of landfills, (I used to go through about 6 bottles a day).
Protective eye wear that filters out Ultra Violet Rays, (including the more dangerous UVB rays) are essential. Even in overcast skies they can protect you and your kids from cataracts, as well as short-term eye damage including snow-blindness in the winter months.
Topping it off, a proper sunhat serves two major purposes; 1 – it is meant to shade you or prevent you from being in direct sunlight, and 2 – and this is actually even more important, it is mean to allow you to expel heat, so the traditional baseball cap is not the greatest of ideas, they tend to hold the heat in, which can lead to overheating, so a straw hat (while not the most fashionable choice) is really a better idea.
You love your kids and every year you tackle the same summer safety concerns. This year take a few extra minutes to look at the bigger and more long term picture. The small changes you make today to support the health of your kids and our planet may cost you a few dollars more initially but the payoff or ROI (return on investment is HUGE) in peace of mind and a healthful future for your family.
HERE’S something funny to think about;
Coca Cola (yes the makers of the beverage that can not only dissolve your car engine, but that can possibly be attributed to the increase of obesity, diabetes, and the overall un wellness of the human race) sponsors PARTICPACTION in Canada. (That’s the organization that encourages physical fitness through activity in Canada)
Ummmmm here’s a question; do they hand out coke bottles or plastic water bottles after the end of the physical activities? Coca Cola is also well known to own many of the bottled water brands, (which most likely are filled with tap water.)
And does it really matter since contributing to the demise of the planet and the environment will inevitably lead to the demise of the human race anyway.
I’m thinking we CAN be active and support the health of people and planet at the same time!
Win/Win/Win – tap water, no sugar, physical activity! Using a TOP quality stainless steel bottles like a Klean Kanteens , now that’s a winning combination. eCause Canada is thrilled to support schools, teams, corporations and charities with winning healthy fundraising opportunities!
Call from anywhere in Canada 1-877-638-1678
Recycling paper and plastic is pretty much the norm now. Almost everyone has blue box that weekly makes its way to the end of the driveway. Did you know though, that the organic material finding its way from kitchen counters to landfills accounts for almost 50% of all waste collected and contributes up to 3% of Canada’s green house gas emissions? By organic material, I mean the stuff that nature gave us in the first place; the carrot and potato peelings, the melon shells and the wilted lettuce from the fridge as well as other table scraps including even meats and breads. These are all examples of household waste that can be converted to organic fertilizer.
Composting is a simple and beneficial way to support multiple levels of our eco system. It improves air quality, helps to grow more nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, and reduces potential ground water contamination. The Borough of Cote St Luc has taken the lead on composting in the greater Montreal area and Big Hanna from Sweden, the largest commercial composter in Canada, belongs to McGill University and is located on its downtown campus. McGill’s Gorilla Composting organization has been working for years becoming a Canadian leader in composting.
In Montreal $215 million dollars over five years is being been slated to build 4 organic waste treatment plants in the Montreal region to process residential organic waste that will be collected weekly. The goal is to convert what’s collected into compost and biofuel. This will make it easy for city dwellers to give back to Mother Nature as communes and Kibbutzim in Israel have been doing for years.
Today my brown bin was delivered here in Dollard Des Ormeaux. It looks quite similar to the one pictured here on the left. This now means that besides all of the fruit and veggie peelings, egg shells and coffee grounds that we already put into our own composter, we’ll now have a place to scrape dinner leftovers that might include salad dressing, olive oil , or even cheese or meat. This is good news for us all, the less “rotting” food that ends up in our landfills, the better our overall air quality and ground water. The better the air quality, the less respiratory issues. Really health of people and planet are interdependent.
If your municipality does not yet have the facility to collect organic waste from you, why not start composting at home? Here’s some information that can get you started.
Composting is a natural and biological breakdown of organic material by micro-organisms, fungi and bacteria, and for the biological breakdown to occur the proper environment needs to be created. Where do we begin in our humble homes? – First, getting or building a composter, and having smaller receptacle like a stainless steel bucket with lid for your kitchen scraps is the beginning. (Most boroughs offer composters for purchase at a discounted price.) Both “green” and brown” materials need to be alternately fed to your composter. The GREENS are your nitrogen rich materials like fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings, coffee grounds and tea bags, and crushed egg shells and the BROWNS are the carbon rich materials such as dry leaves, bread, pasta and rice as well as well shredded paper and paper towels. Simply put, the “greens” is usually the wet stuff from your kitchen and the browns are usually dry. Small changes to your household waste management habits and personal composting is a painless and invaluable contribution you can make towards improving the health of the environment, and yourselves.
Remember not all organic waste from your home can can be used in your home composter, the meats and grease type waste needs to be disposed of rather than composted and the way you layer its contents and care for them is important, and there are some great websites with step by step instructions like the one from London, Ontario http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Recycling_and_Composting/Compost_at_home.htm, and the Compost Montreal also has graphical downloadable document that demonstrates what is ok and not ok to compost found here: http://www.compostmontreal.com/compostables.
While any new task or change takes a while to become habit, this one is simple and makes sense, and definitely reduces the amount of true waste that needs to be carted off to the landfills. You know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, in this case all our trash once converted to quality compost is a treasure for us all.
It always seems so complicated – you know, solving the big stuff like climate change, environmental issues, poverty, disease, war, the rapid decline of our resources. YIKES!
Usually, when there is a big problem, the following things happen; people talk, then debate, there are studies, governments get involved, money and resources get wasted, there is red tape, complacency, inaction, apathy, anger, alienation, all these things happen every day and always. And the solutions usually involve, some kind of political and/or financial agenda WOW that’s complicated!
This Sunday, April 22, people the world over will be hanging up posters, arming themselves with garbage bags and little trees, and taking positive action on Earth Day to make a difference. Children have been working on their projects for days or weeks for this important event. It’s a beautiful thing but this tree hugger thinks it’s not the answer.
The answer is not in these actions. The solution to all the world’s woes is in our hearts, the answer is a four letter word.
LOVE needs to come first and last and everywhere in the middle. Love fixes everything from scraped knees to broken hearts, to poverty and oppression. It is ONLY about love, about loving ourselves and every other living being on this planet in the realization that we are all one. Our actions in North America in the way we live, eat, shop and exist directly impacts others around the world.
People can debate all they want, but there is no question that the health and well being of the human race is directly interconnected to the health of this planet. While our planet would survive without us, the opposite could never occur.
So here is what I propose in honour of this Earth Day, and every day thereafter – whenever presented with some kind of decision, stop, breathe, connect to yourself (and the rest of the universe) and ask yourself what would love do? Whether you are grocery shopping or driving your car, or interacting with your family, colleagues or peers, ask that question, what would love do?
And now, right now, I ask you to take one moment to share with everyone reading this blog, one short sentence with an example of how putting love first can help to change the world.
Example 1 – It’s morning household chaos, finishing homework, eating breakfast, packing lunches, preparing for after school programs, and it’s now 8:30am and the bell rings at 8:47 am, school is about a kilometre away. Daughter still has teeth and hair to brush but she’s almost ready to go, what would love do? I know: hey Ayla (that’s my daughter), “finish up teeth and hair and let’s walk this morning!” Hmm, no car, no emissions, appreciating the birds chirping, quality time with daughter, and hey healthy for people and planet, I am pretty sure that’s what love would do!
See simple, love is simple, love for our health and our well being almost always benefits our planet, but wait I have a second example that works the opposite way.
Example 2 – I’m at the store getting groceries and supplies for the week (this is where we can have the HUGEST impact on our health and environment). I need dishwashing soap for the counter and the dishwasher – do I grab the least expensive one on the shelf or the bottle with the fluorescent orange liquid that says made with natural fragrance? Nah! I stop and ask myself, what would love do? And you know what, love would read the labels to make sure that the products were 100% phosphate- and other-nasty-chemical-free and locally made (there are amazing brands made in Canada). Love wouldn’t mind paying a little more because keeping our local economy healthy and our water systems free of phosphates is healthy for us and our families and of course our environment.
Really this love thing is pretty amazing! Really amazing, it helps us now, and it helps us in the future, and it helps us the world over, OK, now it’s your turn: what do you do, or what can you do to change the world by choosing love? We’d LOVE to know!
Happy Earth Day!
"The World is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry!"
That’s a mouthful! Or maybe it isn’t. What does it mean? What does it have to do with today? Well, March 22 is World Water Day. Water is the most precious resource we have on Earth, it is essential to our survival, and we are essential to its well-being and its very existence.
Originally written for Girl Guides of Canada and published on January 25th, 2012
Girl Guides and Breast Cancer on National Wear It Pink Day
For several years I walked in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Montreal. As a result, I was au courant with the research and of course the desperate need to find a cure. I saw stories of hope but also, on the flip side, I noticed that the incidence of breast cancer was on the rise.
I walked beside survivors, I held the hands of those undergoing treatment, and I also watched Evy, my dad’s partner, fight valiantly and lose her battle with the disease. The harsh reality is that 1 in 8 women will develop some form or breast cancer.
My daughter’s last Girl Guide Unit had 43 girls and four Guiders. According to statistics, six or more of them will get breast cancer. That is not okay with me – how about you? Are you a Guider, a Girl Guide or a parent? Are you okay with that number?
What can we do about it?
Well for starters today, as a sign of our awareness and our commitment we can Wear It Pink today, for starters, and only as a symbol, and then the actual work begins…..
Is there really a CURE for cancer? I personally don’t think so, and although much-needed research dollars make it to projects and programs developing better medications and supporting those undergoing treatment through pink ribbon campaigns, I don’t think the solution lies in buying more bread, batteries or gasoline with a pink ribbon on it. In fact, sad but true some products being sold with pretty pink ribbons on them are known to contain carcinogens.
NO. The real answer, the ONLY answer that empowers us is in prevention!
As Girl Guides “we take action for a better world!” PREVENTION, through education and action is our essential next step!
HELLO LADIES: Newsflash! Our breasts are next to our armpits, well for some of us maybe a little lower but that is not the point here. This is not rocket science, nor am I a doctor, but why in the world should we, would we, put toxic, or known cancer causing chemicals next to our breasts?
You know in our arm pits?
Where we sweat (or rather, glow) to release toxins,
You know through our pores,
Those holes in our skin where stuff can go in and also come out,
Why would we put poison there?
But how do you know what’s safe? That is a little tricky. Unfortunately, there are no standard regulations in place yet to protect us in this area. What we really need is legislation for safer cosmetics, better environmental regulations and we need to know the truth about what’s really inside our products.
There are amazing organizations advocating for our well-being. I am happy to share some of their great work with you here.
- The Story of Cosmetics can save lives, watch this video as an investment in your health and share it with those you love. Guiders, depending on the age of your girls some info can be shared in your units, if not with your girls, their parents. This has a lot of great information.
- Another phenomenal organization and one of the most successful in environmental advocacy in Canada is Environmental Defence. They work diligently to make a positive impact here in both environment issues and health issues in our country. Their new campaign, Just Beautiful, is all about how safe, or rather how unsafe, our cosmetics are. Their mission is “to challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.” That sounds an awful lot like the Girl Guides’ mission.
- A Quebec organization on a similar mission is Breast Cancer Action Montreal, and one of their projects to share important information is through Femme Toxic here is a link to the top 20 toxic ingredients we need to avoid. Breast Cancer Action Montreal can even do presentations and informative workshops on making healthier choices that can assist in cancer prevention.
- Skin Deep through the Environmental Working Group does tons of research and provides you with data and safety information on hundreds of the most popular brands of skin care products. Look up your brand to get an idea of its safety.
National Wear It Pink Day is a day to raise your awareness, and START informing yourself on what is next. Cancer doesn’t look at the calendar to decide when is the best time to move in, EVERYDAY is a day for us to learn and act in our own best interests, commit yourself to learning something about cancer prevention today, and take action on prevention!
So the other night I was at a meeting getting grilled. What in the world is the big deal with water bottles, I was asked?
Today I watched a woman empty the trash from her car into the trash can at the gas station. Among her disposables were 7, yes that’s right 7, plastic water bottles all with varying amounts of water still in them went INTO the trash can.
I am going to tell you what the big deal is and why I am saddened by what I saw:
1- There is no doubt that her health is or could be impacted by the water she drinks from these bottles. Endocrine disruption is a serious issue which can lead to infertility, and contribute to other illnesses that plague our society including learning disabilities, birth defects and cancers.
- Plastic bottles leach chemicals into the water. According to a study (CBC News), the longer water is stored in plastic bottles, the higher the concentration of a potentially harmful chemical.
2- If she has children, chances are they too are plastic bottle babies, and could suffer from fertility issues as a result of the endocrine disruption. It is difficult to find data on “infertility” but the trends are definitely in MORE people seeking help with fertility issues than ever before.
- Endocrine disruptors can leach out of plastics causing an increasing amount of infertility rates among other troubling gland and hormonal problems. (Natural Resources Defense Council)
3- The bottles that were trashed are one of the leading causes of our environment’s health issues. Those bottles don’t even have a chance to make a valuable contribution back to our society. And now the chemicals that leach into the water in the bottles are going to be leach into the ground or our oceans, impacting the health of wildlife too.
- It is interesting to note that National Geographic says for every six bottles we use; only one makes it to the recycling bin.
4- The bottles themselves were made because of our dependence on petroleum based fuels. Why in the world do we need to exploit a non-renewable natural resource like oil to put our tap water in so we can put it in our cars and bags?
- Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil—enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year—are used to make plastic water bottles, while transporting these bottles burns even more oil. (Tree Hugger.com)
5- Her pocketbook is being exploited too, seriously water is free and yet people are happy to pay more for tap water than they do to put gas in their cars.
- Tap water is often subject to more stringent regulation and testing than bottled water. It costs a fraction of the cost from the tap. It is cleaner, cheaper, and thus healthier. (Natural Resources Defense Council)
The solution to all this; to save you money, positively impact your health, and support the wellness of the environment is to take the plunge invest in a TOP quality bottle and help to encourage the cultural shift away from a use-and-toss mentality. Opt for a TOP quality stainless steel bottle such as a Klean Kanteen which is the safest alternative to plastic and should last you a lifetime! Receive a free neoprene bottle sleeve with a Klean Kanteen bottle purchase at eCause. We were thrilled to read a story that was recently released; Colleges moving away from Plastic Water Bottles. Also do enjoy this great video on the Water Bottle industry too! this was done by the Story of Stuff people with Annie Leonard.
Do you know how much your child weighs? If he or she is about 30 kilograms, chances are that’s how much waste he or she is generating at lunch time in school throughout the year. In other words, a school of about 300 students generates almost 9,000 kilograms of lunch garbage! And are they packing? Juice boxes I mean? Juice boxes are typically made up of six layers of paper, polyethylene, and aluminum foil, making most of them non-recyclable and allowing them to hang out in our landfills for approximately 300 years before beginning to decompose. You know what else they’re doing? They are costing you a small fortune every year! In fact, in an average school year of 180 days, at an average cost of 0.50 each, (much more for the “real juice” and consuming about two per day), you are spending almost $200 over the school year. In reality, by making a one-time purchase of a reusable stainless steel bottle that you can fill up with water, milk or juice, you have healthier options to give your kids for a lot less money. It’s a no-brainer! Kick the juice box habit and help the environment as well as your wallet!
Make your child a super-hero; enjoy this great little video about the environmental impact of juice boxes on the planet. Whether you choose to watch this with family and friends, or share and show this video to your classroom we hope that it will help encourage you to take the initiative to pack greener lunches this school year!